Summer is flying by, which means it is already time to think about enrolling your child in after school activities for the upcoming year. Ballet provides great physical exercise and also instills confidence, teaches discipline and artistry and helps young students develop coordination and imaginative thinking. Many schools begin enrolling for the Fall semester during the summer months, so now is a good time to look into finding a ballet program to meet your needs.
Enrolling Your Child in Ballet Between Ages 3-6
For the youngest dancers (ages 3-6) classes are usually referred to as Creative Movement or Pre-ballet and are one hour in length; at this age strict ballet technique should not be a part of the curriculum. Children will learn to dance to different tempos and understand rhythm while focusing on simple coordination. These classes involve imaginative games as well as creative thinking and should be fun for your child! Children should not yet be dancing at the barre or focusing on “turnout” (external rotation of the legs and feet). Your child should be excited to go to class and have positive feelings about his/her teacher– if not consider looking into another class or studio.
Ballet Classes for Your Child Around Age 7
Once a child reaches age 7, more formal instruction begins. Classes become more disciplined and children learn a series of exercises that are repeated in every class (plié, tendu, dégagé, etc.). Classes typically increase in length to 1.5 hours for children at age 8 and usually meet 2 to 3 times per week. In general, students should not begin pointe work until they have studied a minimum of three years and are at least 11 years old in order to avoid injury and future problems. Most studios require a dress code for classes- typically pink tights and ballet slippers with a certain type/color of leotard.
When considering which studio will best meet the needs of your child, there are several factors you may want to consider:
- Is the studio affiliated with a professional company?
- Are the school or faculty certified/accredited by a respected organization (American Ballet Theatre’s National Training Curriculum or the National Association of Schools of Dance are two good examples)?
- What is the word of mouth within the community?
- Are there performance opportunities (i.e. The Nutcracker) for your child?
- Is the time commitment appropriate for your schedule?
After you have considered these points you will be ready to enroll your child in ballet classes!